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The Chamber Convenes 400+ Community Leaders for 2019 Annual Meeting

The Chamber Convenes 400+ Community Leaders for 2019 Annual Meeting

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Directors announce 2018 progress and 2019 priorities, honor four local leaders, unveil the new brand, and introduce "Big Ideas”

Chapel Hill, NC – On Feb. 1, 2019, the Greater Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce (The Chamber) convened more than 400 community leaders for the 76th Annual Meeting.
During the meeting, Chamber directors discussed 2018 performance, shared 2019 priorities, recognized four local leaders with awards, unveiled the new brand, and introduced “Big Ideas: For a Greater Community.”
“The state of our Chamber and business community is strong,” said Immediate Past Chair, Reagan Greene Pruitt, Vice President, Marketing & Community Engagement, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina.

2018 Performance

Under Greene Pruitt’s leadership, The Chamber, with nearly 1,000 member enterprises, had an exceptional year. (Read the 2018 Annual Report.) Some 2018 highlights:

  • Hosted more than 100 networking events and educational programs to help members connect, including the biennial Inter-City Visit and Leadership Conference and the 11th annual State of the Community Report.
  • Delivered several key public policy wins and strengthened the Carrboro Business Alliance with recharged policy priorities, reinvigorated programming, and a refreshed brand.
  • Grew the Small Business Energy Initiative to offer free audits to businesses throughout Durham, Chatham, and Alamance Counties.
  • Coordinated the most successful membership campaign in the history of the Carolinas, welcomed 270 new members, and – for the third year in a row – earned greater than 90% member renewal rate, placing The Chamber among the best in the nation.  
  • Rebranded The Chamber with an exceptional new visual identity and charge that reflects the membership’s shared vision; earned national award for having one of the best Chamber relocation guides in the nation.


New Brand

After more than a year of board retreats, membership surveys, and discussions with key stakeholders, as well as consideration of more than two dozen creative concepts, the board and staff selected the new brand identity for the Greater Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce, which was introduced and celebrated during the event.  Watch the 45-second video introducing the new brand



“The Chamber” with the tagline, “For a Greater Chapel Hill-Carrboro,” is both a name and a charge for the path ahead. The mark features a central circle surrounded by a series of concentric C shapes, which represents The Chamber's home as Chapel Hill and its work radiating out into the greater community, including Carrboro, Orange County, and Chatham County and beyond.

Together, the new name, tagline, and mark convey a contemporary new brand identity that reflects The Chamber’s warmth and strength, engaged and collaborative spirit, and passion for innovation and effectiveness. Learn more about the new brand

The Chamber worked in partnership with the Rivers Agency – a full-service integrated marketing firm based in Chapel Hill with world class clients including Bausch & Lomb and CREE – to create the new brand identity.

“Rivers Agency is proud to be a member of The Chamber and collaborate with the board and staff every step of the way in developing this thoughtful and inspiring new brand identity,” said Lauren Rivers, President and Founder of Rivers Agency. Read their blog, "Rebranding for the Chamber's Future."  


 “Big Ideas” 

Building on the strong momentum from 2018 and the powerful new brand charge, 2019 Board Chair, Creighton Blackwell, introduced a new concept, “Big Ideas: For a Greater Community
“Big Ideas” is an ambitious, community-wide, civic improvement initiative to collectively identify several big goals that would make the region a better place to live, work, and launch or grow a business. Done well, Big Ideas would serve as a shared vision and strategic plan for the years ahead.
During the meeting, Blackwell announced the commitment of The Chamber Board and staff to give time, focus, and investment in 2019 to develop the concept and path forward. Further, he shared the cell phone number for Chamber President & CEO, Aaron Nelson, and encouraged all members and guests to text Aaron their big ideas. More than 60 big ideas were submitted. 
“I believe our community is ready to collaborate on some big ideas,” said Blackwell. “If we do this right, by year-end we will have, together, established several clear, shared goals that will help make Greater Chapel Hill-Carrboro the best place to live, work, and start or grow a business.”

2019 Priorities

The Chamber aspires to be one of the greatest chambers in the nation, serving and supporting members and building a sustainable community where business thrives. To advance this vision, Blackwell announced four core priorities for 2019: 1) deliver exceptional member value, 2) increase community impact, 3) improve operational efficiency, and 4) ensure financial sustainability.
Blackwell also introduced Chamber leadership for 2019, including:

  • Vice Chair: Ellen Shannon, Shannon Media and Chapel Hill Magazine

  • Treasurer and Finance Committee Chair: Joel Levy, Joel I. Levy CPA

  • General Counsel: Arthur (Arty) Bolick, Brooks Pierce

  • Secretary and CEO: Aaron Nelson, The Chamber

  • Government Affairs Committee Chair: Tom Wiltberger, Terra Nova Global Properties

  • Membership Committee Chair: Helen Antipov, Brookdale Chapel Hill

  • Technology Committee Chair: Tola Oguntoyinbo, ShineBiG

  • Chair of The Partnership for a Sustainable Community: Robert Saunders, Brooks Pierce

Learn more about the new board of directors and staff.  



Four awards were presented during the event:

  • Ambassador of the Year: Connolly Walker, Pam Herndon State Farm Office

  • Chair’s Award for Service: Bridget Pemberton-Smith, Art Therapy Institute (formerly Cameron’s)

  • Chair’s Award for Public Private Partnership: Mayor Pam Hemminger, Town of Chapel Hill

  • Duke Energy Citizenship & Service Award: Principal John Williams, Phoenix Academy High School

*Full citation for each award winner is listed below.


Invitations to Engage

The Annual Meeting, held at The Carolina Club, closed with The Chamber President and CEO Aaron Nelson inviting members to:


About the Annual Meeting

The Chamber hosts the Annual Meeting to provide Chamber members, elected officials, and friends a report on the performance from the previous year, a forecast for the year ahead, a chance to connect with local leaders, and a time to celebrate the successes of the business community. Sponsors for this year’s Annual Meeting include: CMIT Solutions, UNC Student Stores, Coastal Credit Union, Terra Nova Global Properties, Duke Energy, Piedmont Health, East West Partners, Small Business Energy Initiative, Alicia Stemper Photography, Community Home Trust, Erickson Advisors, and Prestige Associates. Photos from the event are featured on flickr; follow the conversation at #AM2019

About The Chamber 

The Greater Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce (The Chamber) is a membership organization that serves and advances the business interests of Greater Chapel Hill, including the Town of Carrboro and southern Orange, northern Chatham, and southwest Durham counties. The Chamber's network is growing with nearly 1,000 member enterprises that employ more than 95,000 workers throughout the region. Together with its network, The Chamber is committed to building a sustainable community where business thrives. Members count on the Chamber to connect them with key people, information, and resources; advocate for local business interests; promote members, community, and quality of life; and help members save money.



2018 Award Citations


2018 Ambassador of the Year Award to Connolly Walker

“The Chamber Ambassador program, now in its 31st year, is a group of business leaders who volunteer their time to support first-year Chamber members, orienting them to Chamber benefits and services as well as positioning them for success in our community. This group of 12 talented individuals combine to offer the Chamber more than 600 hours of volunteer service each year.
The Ambassador of the Year is our most active of these volunteers – going above and beyond to serve our first-year members.  Reliable, hardworking, consistent, dedicated.
Please join me in recognizing the 2018 Ambassador of the Year, a leader in the Pam Herndon State Farm Office, and Chair of our Young Professionals Network, Connolly Walker.” (Reagan Greene Pruitt, 2018 Chamber Board Chair)


2018 Chair’s Award for Service to the Chamber to Bridget Pemberton-Smith

“The 2018 Chair’s Award for Service to the Chamber and its Members presented to an individual in recognition of exceptional service to the Chamber, its mission, and its members. This year’s winner is a very special member of the Chamber and the Carrboro Community - a servant-leader, trusted advisor, entrepreneur, and a champion for the greater good.
As Chair of the new and improved Carrboro Business Alliance, this individual has steered the incredible development of the organization all while running her own business with her sister and tackling one of the most demanding business years of her life. She remained steady, calm, focused, and committed – a true leader. 
For her service to the Chamber and its members, and her huge heart for Carrboro, I am pleased to recognize the Chair of the Carrboro Business Alliance, former co-owner of Cameron’s, and now a leader at the Art Therapy Institute, Bridget Pemberton-Smith, as the recipient of the 2018 Chair’s Award for Service to the Chamber and its Members!” (Reagan Greene Pruitt, 2018 Chamber Board Chair)


2018 Chair’s Award for Public Private Partnership to Mayor Pam Hemminger

“The Chair’s award for Public Private Partnership was created in 2010, by then Chamber board chair Joanne Fiore of AICPA, to recognize an individual whose work and community service builds bridges between the community’s public and private sectors.
This year’s award is presented to an elected official with a clear vision for the future. An accessible collaborator, convener, and relationship builder who shows real leadership in an increasingly fractured time. A champion for small business with commercial development chops, and one of the hardest working elected officials we can remember.
It is the Chamber’s privilege and honor to publicly appreciate the work of this community leader by presenting her with the Chair’s Award for Public Private Partnership. Please join me in congratulating 2018 Chair’s Award for Public Private Partnership, Chapel Hill Mayor Pam Hemminger.” (Reagan Greene Pruitt, 2018 Chamber Board Chair)

Duke Energy Citizenship & Service Award to John Williams 

“Duke Energy is proud to partner again with The Chamber to recognize outstanding service and leadership in our communities through the Duke Energy Citizenship and Service Award. In our 115th year of service, Duke Energy understands that the true work of our communities is accomplished by people like those gathered here today – people who make a positive difference in the lives of others through service.
The Duke Energy Citizenship and Service Award is a tribute to individuals or groups who make a difference in their communities and organizations by using their time, talents, and compassion to make a positive difference. Recipients of the award help foster a culture of citizenship and service that acts as a catalyst for others to become involved.
The honoree must exhibit the following business values: integrity, stewardship, inclusion, initiative, teamwork, and accountability. This year’s award winner is Phoenix Academy High School Principal, John Williams.
John Williams is the Principal of Phoenix Academy High School, an alternative school that is part of Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools. The high school he leads serves 35-45 students between 9th and 12th grades, who can benefit from a more individualized education approach. John became principal of Phoenix Academy High School in 2012 and was recently recognized last year by his peers as the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools ‘2017 Principal of the Year.’
According to School Superintendent Dr. Pam Baldwin, ‘John is the principal who comes to work early on Monday mornings and picks up trash in the parking lot because he believes his students deserve a clean campus. His students tell stories of him showing up at their homes to take them to school on days when they decided not to attend. He laughs with them, he cries with them, and he is always there for them.’
John previously served as a principal and assistant principal with Durham Public Schools. Prior to his work as an educator, John served in the United States Air Force for 20 years. He retired as a Senior Master Sergeant. Upon retiring from the Air Force and having earned a bachelor’s degree and two masters degrees, Williams operated a private mental health counseling practice before becoming a full time educator.
Principal Williams believes in his students and their future.  Principal Williams inspires his students.  Principal Williams inspired us. Senior Master Sergeant and Principal John Williams: For your exceptional service to our country, your school, most importantly, to the lives of so many students; for always going the extra mile; and for being a community hero, it is my privilege to present to you, on behalf of Duke Energy and the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce, the Duke Energy Citizenship and Service Award. Congratulations!” (Indira Everett, Duke Energy)

Contact: Katie Loovis, Chamber Vice President for External Affairs, (919) 696-0781 (cell). 

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